The landscape of TV has changed a lot in the past decade and one central aspect is how much more of a favorable environment it has become for women — though of course, there is more room for improvement. In the meantime, the Arts Desk is here to recommend some of our favorite female-led comedy series.
This is one of Netflix’s hidden gems and one of my favorite shows of the past few years. The comedy series focuses on a group of women recruited to be in a fake wrestling TV show, the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, despite the fact that most of them don’t have any wrestling or acting experience. The team is led by aspiring actress Ruth Wilder (Alison Brie) and former soap opera star Debbie Eagan (Betty Gilpin) — former best friends whose relationship is crippled when Debbie finds out her husband has been cheating on her with Ruth. The show wonderfully balances the wacky humor of each of the women while still maintaining the narrative’s emotional heft. There are times “GLOW” legitimately crosses over into drama territory when it focuses on the damaged friendship between Ruth and Debbie or when Cameron has to face the pressures of living up to her wrestling brothers’ legacies. One of the reasons why I personally love sports movies is that they often depict as underdog stories. Each of the women has to overcome a specific hurdle and it is amazing how well the show is able to navigate each of their stories without cutting corners or downplaying any of them. The show is also an easy binge. Each episode is about 30 minutes and each season, only two so far, is only ten episodes long. — Guru
“Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23”
Krysten Ritter’s dramatic chops are undeniable — from her heartbreaking arc as Jane on “Breaking Bad” to her work as a steely super-detective in Netflix’s “Jessica Jones” — but my favorite role of hers is that of the titular character in the Fox sitcom “Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23.” As Chloe, a cynical, hilariously sardonic con-artist, she shines. But the sadly short-lived series has plenty more going for it than just one great performer. The rest of the cast, including Dreama Walker, Eric Andre and James Van Der Beek — of “Dawson’s Creek” fame — are excellent. Walker’s June moves in with Chloe, who demands she pay rent upfront before trying to scare her off and keep the money. But the sweet Midwesterner trying to make it in New York City proves to have more mettle than meets the eye, and the two women strike up a friendship. Van Der Beek, unexpectedly great, plays a fictionalized version of himself, a teen-heartthrob-turned-has-been trying to break back into Hollywood. And the writing, coming at you with a steady barrage of jokes, is never short of delightful. — Alex
Many people write off “Ugly Betty” as a silly sitcom about a working girl in the city, but it’s so much more. “Ugly Betty” was the first female-led Latinx comedy series to achieve mainstream viewership in the U.S., making it nothing short of revolutionary. In the show, America Ferrera plays a young Betty Suarez as she struggles to be recognized as a writer in Manhattan despite her humble upbringing and poor sense of style. This is not to say that Betty is some irredeemably unattractive girl like the title suggests (after all, it is America Ferrera under those drug store glasses), but she is unapologetically frumpy. Think Anne Hathaway before her makeover in “The Devil Wears Prada.” To give you an idea, in the first episode, Betty shows up to her interview with Mode fashion magazine in a Guadalajara poncho. She’s clumsy, she’s quirky, she’s Betty. And growing up watching her, a woman who cared more about her work than her looks, was inspirational and deeply encouraging. So, if you’re feeling bogged down by work or intimidated by NYFW, I invite you to hop on Hulu and binge your heart out. — Claire
Email the Arts Desk at [email protected]